After a 6 hour committee meeting, Islington council decided the 'culture of drugs' would shut the London nightlife institution down
Fabric has had its licence revoked and will close permanently, following a decision made by Islington council last night.
The club had been closed pending review after the drug-related deaths of two young men over the course of nine months. A petition to save the London nightlife institution had received over 150,000 signatures, with clubbers, artists who had played the venue all showing their support.
Prior to the review, Alan Millar, chairperson of the Time Industries Association, told Dazed: “Fabric nightclub operates the ‘gold standard’ of operations and safety leading both in the UK and internationally. Trying to make Fabric responsible for the wider question of controlled substances in society - which are not able to be stopped at our borders, prisons nor anywhere else - is both hypocritical and dangerous.”
We need to have professionally we'll run premises where customers are handled decently and safely rather than the alternative - impromptu unregulated unlicensed events. People will want to dance, drink and some will take drugs. We need to work with people like criminologist Fiona Measham and The Loop with a proven track record of harm reduction when testing substances at festivals and elsewhere. We don't close down our motorways or banks when there are deaths and armed robberies.”
He added: “We need to work in partnership together to ensure our cultural hubs continue and we minimise costs and maximise the benefits of employment, revenue, lighting up our streets and inspiring our cultural and social landscapes.”
5 hours of debate took place last night at the sub-committee meeting, where evidence was heard from the likes of Fabric’s co-founder Cameron Leslie and the local police force.
Leslie received a standing ovation following an impassioned speech. He told the room that his co-founder had stood up to drug gangs previously, and that it was far a “safe haven” for drugs. He said that they knew “very well” the challenges of running a safe venue in London, one that’s had over 6.75 million people through its doors in the last 17 years.
“We take our responsibilities very seriously and the notion we somehow shield this activity is shameful and I would go as far to say libellous. We wholeheartedly do not accept the police stance of endemic failure,” he said.
The club had previously been victorious following a 2014 review demanded by local authorities after four drug-related deaths since 2011. After 6 hours, the council ruled that the club would have its licence revoked and close permanently, because “searches were inadequate and in breach of the license”
Licensing sub-committee Chair Flora Williamson, in her closing statement, said: “There is a culture of drugs at Fabric which management cannot control.”
“Staff intervention and security was grossly inadequate in light of the overwhelming evidence that it was abundantly obvious that patrons in the club were on drugs and manifesting symptoms showing that they were. This included sweating, glazed red eyes and staring into space and people asking for help.”
“The problems that manifested themselves at the 2014 review have not been addressed adequately resulting in further tragedy and crime.”
Today, following the decision, a spokesperson for Fabric said: “Fabric is extremely disappointed with Islington Council's decision to revoke our license. This is an especially sad day for those who have supported us, particularly the 250 staff who will now lose their jobs. Closing Fabric is not the answer to the drug-related problems clubs like ours are working to prevent, and sets a troubling precedent for the future of London's night time economy.”
Supporters of the club came out in droves at the review and across social media to contest the decision, many saying that its closure would be a serious implication for nightlife culture, and that an opportunity to provide drug harm reduction was being lost. Fabric now joins a long, sad line of venues shut down in the last few years, following Plastic People and Madame Jojo’s, among others.
Since 1999; 6 accidental deaths in Fabric. Since 1999; 108 people have died while held in custody by London Metropolitan Police.— Dave Haslam (@Mr_Dave_Haslam) September 7, 2016
I see Fabric has closed down which means no young people will take drugs anymore so well done the police.— Jamie East (@jamieeast) September 7, 2016
Thinking of all the people who face losing their jobs at fabric but also the DJs who will lose gigs. Leaves a massive hole in UK clubland.— Seb Wheeler (@seb_wheeler_) September 7, 2016
Pure sadness about Fabric. London is being ruined right now.— Four Tet (@FourTet) September 7, 2016
Alan Miller spoke to the crowd following the decision, many of whom were tearful hearing news the club, which had opened in 1999, would be closed. He said: “This is not the end of the story. This is just the beginning. We are going to call on people to contribute funds in a grassroots national movement to lobby their MP and councillors to say enough is enough.
“If it wasn’t for places like Fabric we would have none of our cultural assets - where we get inspired, where we fall in love. We are going to challenge this. It is unacceptable. We are going to put a crowdfunder statement out and we are going self-finance and support a fund to fight for Fabric and everyone in the industry because when they come for you they come for all of us.”